I‘ve already told you all about mine and Adams recent New York City elopement, however, I wanted to share our Chester Zoo wedding reception with you too.
Because our actual wedding ceremony was so intimate, Adam and I wanted to host a reception so that we could celebrate our marriage with friends and family at home. We’d looked at several UK hotels and halls but found ourselves facing overpriced hire charges and various other issues.
The main priority was to find a location that would suit both of our families; the majority of mine are based in the Manchester area and most of Adam’s family are in North Wales. We actually almost put a hefty payment down for a reception at a 4* hotel near Llangollen, but something in the back of my mind knew that we’d simply be settling.
I scoured the internet for an alternative and came across Oakfield Manor (now The Oakfield) at Chester Zoo. Featured on ‘The Secret Life of the Zoo’ and seeped in rich history, this is somewhere that I spent a lot of my childhood and have since enjoyed many days out there with my own family.
Assuming that this stunning venue would be way outside of our modest budget, I sent them a hopeful email and swiftly forgot about it. A few days later, I was informed that not only was our preferred date available, but the quote came back a lot cheaper than expected.
Fast forward to 22 October 2016, we arrived at Chester Zoo armed with a little team of wonderful friends and family and began to decorate the manor. In all fairness, the backdrop was so beautiful that it required minimal effort. Built in 1885, it boasts various ornate fireplaces, wooden panelled walls, three reception rooms and original Tudor-style features. With the addition of some floral bunting, fresh flowers and bookish paper fans, we were all set.
The guests began to arrive and it was the best feeling in the world, seeing all of our loved ones under one roof. A few weeks before our wedding, Adam and I realised that our respective parents haven’t actually met each other before so it was the perfect opportunity to introduce the family to my brand new in-laws.
We’d opted for fresh bacon and sausage sandwiches with a side of wedges as an evening snack and these seemed to go down well with our guests. Our wedding cake consisted of 2 tiers of simple lemon sponge filled with buttercream and lemon curd from Sponge. I received one of their ‘cake cards’ for my birthday a few years ago and was taken by just how fresh and light it was, making them the natural choice for our wedding.
We also ordered 120 individual sponges a variety of flavours, including classic Victoria Sponge, Bakewell, Chocolate, Chocolate Orange, Lemon and Apple Crumble. Alongside our sweet buffet with mountains of candy corn and other USA favourites that we brought back from America, these also proved popular. So much so that by the time Adam and I got around to trying one later that night, they had all been snapped up.
We’d hired our friend and professional photographer, Abigail Joan, to take some snaps of the evening. The last thing we wanted was posed, awkward shots of the family, so we asked her to be as inconspicuous as possible. We received our digital album back within a week of the reception and the pictures were perfect.
Between chatting with friends and catching up with family, the night absolutely flew by. I realised afterwards that there were so many people who I’d not even spoken to during the reception and gave myself a guilt trip for a good few days. With over 100 guests and just five hours to get around them all, I eventually forgave myself and hoped that everyone had just as much fun as we did.
Adam and I went back to Oakfield Manor the next morning to help clear up and collect our decorations, only to find that the staff had pretty much done it all for us. They were incredibly helpful throughout both the reception and the prior organisation; I absolutely cannot recommend them enough. I just wish that we could do it all over again!
*All images by Abigail Joan Photography